Rodent management and the food processing industry: a proactive approach

At this year’s Sprague Food Safety Pest Management Conference, the Sprague Pest Experts and some the nation’s leading food safety and pest management authorities shared the latest information on food safety and pest management trends and practices.

One of the sessions focused on the food processing industry’s biggest pest nemesis: rodents. Noted rodent expert Dr. Bobby Corrigan of RMC Pest Management Consulting talked about risk assessment for rodents in food processing and distribution facilities.

“We are here today to better understand risk assessment for rodent IPM, and we are doing so in an era of enhanced food safety,” Corrigan told attendees.

Rodent management in and around food processing facilities is a vital part of a client’s overall food safety and pest management program. A rodent infestation can cause significant harm to a food processing facility, both financially and in food safety. The words “food borne illness,” “E. coli,” “listeria,” and “salmonella” are ones a QA manager and his or her boss never want to hear.

Corrigan says rodent management programs should always be supplemented with site-specific analysis and not strictly reliant on a “template” approach.

“Every facility has its own unique DNA that must be considered when designing and implementing a rodent management program,” said Corrigan. “Assuming a bakery is just like the one a few miles down the road can get you in trouble.”

Corrigan emphasized that nothing is standard when it comes to preventing and controlling rodents in a food processing facility; the variableness associated with rodents makes them a challenge to manage.

Some keys to properly assessing the threat level and staying one step ahead include:

  • Comprehensive inspections on the building interior and exterior.
  • Sharing regular progress reports.
  • Consistent communication between the facility and its pest management partner.

“The absence of rodents in traps or bait stations does not mean that rodents are not present in or around the facility,” said Corrigan. “Being pro-active when assessing a rodent threat means looking at sanitation protocols, cultural practices and the facility’s physical condition to truly measure what is a threat and what isn’t.” 

Corrigan cautioned attendees to avoid the “wait and see” approach when it comes to implementing rodent or pest management programs. While a facility weighs its options, he pointed out, rodents can be multiplying in areas away from the wall void or perimeter fence line that you are focused on.

“With rodents, it is not enough to wait until an independent third-party audit to take a hard and close look at where things stand,” continued Corrigan. “It is important for both parties to regularly review how the program is progressing and react accordingly to new threats or changes.”

Rodents: Rats & Mice